Langevin Introduces Transit Accessibility Innovation Act

Mar 18, 2015 Issues: Disabilities, Transportation, Veterans

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), a founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus, today introduced the Transit Accessibility Innovation Act, along with original co-sponsors Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Congressmen Tim Ryan (D-OH), Steve Cohen (D-OH) and Mike Quigley (D-IL). First introduced in 2014, this legislation would create a competitive grant program under the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to encourage transit systems to make public transportation more accessible and user-friendly for individuals with disabilities.

“Accessible public transportation is essential in order for people with disabilities to live independently with strong connections to their community. Access to public services, employment and health care empowers these individuals and puts them on a path to success,” said Langevin, who also sent a letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) asking that the bill be included in any upcoming transportation reauthorization legislation. “As we approach the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we are reminded that equal access for all Americans is our responsibility, and we must do everything in our power to make it a top priority for public transit systems.”

Through this legislation, a new pilot program would be created to encourage transportation systems to become more accessible and address existing deficiencies in service for individuals with disabilities. Grants would be awarded on a competitive basis and the FTA would evaluate applicants based on six long-term outcomes, including community integration, safety, accessibility, quality, coordination and customer service. Projects that could be replicated in other communities would be given particular consideration.

“Ensuring that Americans with disabilities can easily access public transportation is crucial to their ability to live independent and fulfilling lives,” said Duckworth. “Right now, too many persons with disabilities, including thousands of Veterans, have difficulty using public transportation. This legislation will help persons with disabilities contribute to our communities even more by making public transportation systems more accessible.”

“I am proud to support services that make public transportation more accessible for Americans with disabilities. This program will be instrumental in helping disabled Americans utilize the public transit systems already in place across our great nation. This is a bill that both sides of the aisle can come together and agree upon, and it is our responsibility to do everything in our power to make sure those most in need in our communities have the services they deserve,” said Ryan.

“Too many families in Memphis and across America face transportation challenges that hinder their efforts to do things most of us take for granted, and that is equally true for people living with disabilities,” said Cohen. “Widespread, efficient, and accessible public transit systems are critically important for countless citizens who rely on them to get their groceries, find jobs, go to the doctor, and commute to and from work, among other uses. I am pleased to join Congressman Langevin in this effort to make public transit more accessible across the country.”

“Public transit improves the quality of life for people in Chicago and around the country by making cities more accessible, livable, and environmentally friendly. However, the benefits of public transit cannot be fully realized until everybody is guaranteed access,” said Quigley. “The Transit Accessibility Innovation Act would make public transportation more accessible for all members of our communities, opening up new possibilities for so many citizens and helping our cities grow and thrive.”

The Transit Accessibility Innovation Act has the support of the Easter Seals, the Amalgamated Transit Union, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, the United Spinal Association, the Transportation Equity Network and the Community Transportation Association of America.